GROW's step 6, "We endured until cured" is all about resilience, which is, to quote one GROWer, "the ability to keep going".
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GROW Step 6 - It's all about Resilience

We endured until cured. This article on Step 6 of the GROW 12 Step Program is a selection of pieces by different writers who explore step 6. This step is fundamentally about resilience which Luke defines well as the “ability to keep going”. Derek Mahon, who, in partnership with GROW, conquered Mt Everest on 24th May, is someone who had to draw deeply on his physical and mental reserves in order to reach the summit: "A lot of it is down to having the strength of mind to keep going, even when your body is screaming to stop. I am hoping that this message will resonate with people who are suffering with mental health issues and who may also need encouragement to keep going in their own fight.”
Jim: Years ago I was getting really stressed out with my job and I had some quarrels with close friends. There was a danger that I could spiral into a black hole of negativity, take to the bed or end up in hospital. Looking back I can see how a few crucial ingredients gave me the ability to keep going. First, I shared my frustrations with a close GROW friend. Having bombarded him with an hour of blaming others, he waited till I had exhausted my anger, looked me straight in the eye and said: “You know Jim, we can’t change other people. We can only change ourselves.” A painful truth that I needed to hear...

Margaret: As a child I was bullied in school, so I was forced to spend a lot of time on my own. However I stumbled into a team sport (Camogie) in Secondary school and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I could just turn up for training. I didn’t need someone to go with me to take part. By consistently turning up for training and always being available to play I earned my right to be picked on the team. I had a role, I was the Full Back! The positive impact of being bullied as a child was that I became an extremely independent adult. It was only at GROW, many years later, that I began to look at my friendships and realise that my experiences as a child impacted on my relationships in later life... 

Joan: When I was told by a doctor that a long term physical illness was incurable, I adopted my usual attitude to life’s problems – ‘I can beat this’ – which mostly works but not in this particular case. I once heard that people pray for 3 reasons: (a) they are asked to do so by others; (b) out of routine to ask for the usual favours; (c) out of pure desperation. Illness made me pray out of desperation. My prayers were answered in an unexpected manner. Following my doctor’s advice, I joined GROW’s Ceart group (for people with chronic physical illnesses). Here I experienced the fellowship of others who could understand my struggles and had often come through worse experiences themselves...

Martin: I wonder is the word ‘resilience’ just a modern buzz word for life and our need to allow life to shine through in ourselves, others, nature, God. Perhaps the greatest battle is with the enemy within – that voice inside us that keeps telling us we are no good. Through GROW we learn that everyone battles with their inner demons. However we can choose to actively ignore this negativity. Instead, life challenges us to find and build on the good that is within us all.

Luke: Listening to ye all, I am reminded of the saying: “Fear knocked on the door. Faith answered. There was no one there.” When I practise meditation I try to allow fearful thoughts to arise, let them be and they will go away. I came to GROW believing GROW would teach me how to be rid of all these negative thoughts. Now I see recovery as being the ability to accept, but not act, on these thoughts. With such an attitude they lose their power over me. Resilience may sound heroic. However often it’s just the ability to keep going...

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The GROW in Ireland Newsletter Team

Features, News & Updates from around the Country

Carrying the Message

GROW’s 12th step is “We carried GROW’s message to others in need” and during May, See Change, the National Stigma Reduction Partnership and its 90 partner organisations, including GROW, rolled out a very successful Green Ribbon Campaign. The aim being to get people talking openly about mental health problems. The Lime Green Ribbon has been established in the US and beyond as the international symbol for challenging the stigma of mental health problems.

Read all about GROW's participation in events during May...

How to reach out to a loved one with Depression

When we begin to notice that someone close to us has been in a low space, withdrawn, feeling hopeless or worthless for an extended amount of time, our first alarm bell is in our feelings of concern. Feeling down from time to time is a normal part of life. We all go through ups and downs in our mood and sadness is a normal reaction to life’s struggles, setbacks, and disappointments. Many people use the word “depression” to explain these kinds of feelings, but depression is much more than just sadness. When emptiness and despair take hold and won’t go away, it may be depression. Whatever the symptoms, depression is different from normal sadness in that it engulfs day-to-day life, interfering with the ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and have fun. The feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness are intense and unrelenting.

Louise Hay describes the metaphysical meaning of depression as: “Anger you feel you do not have a right to have”. Depression can be the result of our anger turned inwards and the result of not feeling worthy to experience the pleasure of life or losing hope that life can offer fulfillment. Anger and sorrow are natural responses to feeling unworthy. Our worthiness arises from within us when we hold in compassion the parts of ourselves that are crying out to be understood and loved.

Depression hurts, physically and mentally. It affects the person’s ability to work and function. And, it hurts those who love someone suffering from it. The likelihood of being close to, or knowing someone with serious depression is high. The Challenging Times Two study (Published Oct 2013) showed that 19.5% of young Irish adults aged 19-24 were experiencing a mental disorder at the time the study was conducted.

When you have concerns about someone you care about, here are some things that may help you to reach out to them:
  • Get informed.
  • Acknowledgement.
  • Choose when to talk.
  • Be there to listen.
  • Accept their condition.
  • Encourage them to get help.
  • Be patient if they aren’t ready.
Emer O'Grady is founder and owner of Aria Therapy who have a team of skilled psychotherapists, counsellors and healers with many years experience and success working positively with sufferers of depression. Aria Therapy are located at 7 Strand Street Great, Dublin 1 (near the Capel Street GROW office). See or phone 085 1793900 for further information.

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Recovery - Mental Health without Models?

This article was written a few years ago and is reproduced with kind permission of Dr. Pat Bracken, who is delivering a talk entitled “A Psychiatrist’s Reflections on Art, Surrealism, Mental Health & Recovery” in the West Cork Hotel, Skibbereen @ 7:30pm on Wed 4th June (Tickets €10).

In mental health circles, the word ‘recovery’ has increasingly come to signal an alternative agenda in mental health. The word was first employed in this way by service users but in recent years has been taken up by many professionals who are seeking change in how we think about mental health. In Ireland, the concept features prominently in the Vision for Change document, and the Mental Health Commission gave very clear support to the idea in their discussion document A Vision for a Recovery Model in Irish Mental Health Services.
Sometimes it is argued that what is needed is a shift from a ‘medical model’ to a ‘recovery model’. In this article, I want to show why I think that this is wrong. First, I will argue that problems with the current way of thinking about mental health go deeper than simply the use of the medical model. Second, I will suggest that the recovery movement represents a truly radical development, in that it involves getting us to move, not just beyond the medical model, but away from models altogether. When we start to think about recovery as just another model, we rob it of its real challenge to the status quo.

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Group Evaluation in GROW

Up until the end of 2013, those familiar with GROW meetings will know that there were two group evaluation forms in use, both of which had to be completed at the end of each meeting. One was the original GROW Recorder form and the other was a form used to capture key statistical data for reporting purposes. Over the course of 2013 a new Group Evaluation Form was developed which combined the original two forms into a single form. This has now been in use for some months so we would like to share some information with the wider community. We would especially like to thank the Recorders in all the groups for their diligence. The information gathered is critical to GROW’s operations and is very important from a quality perspective.

Key Stats from Jan-Apr 2014 (4 months)

  • 400 – monthly forms submitted.
  • 1,400 – GROW meetings recorded and evaluated.
  • 6 – Average attendance at GROW meetings nationwide.
  • Breakdown: 47% Male and 53% Female.
  • Age Profile: 7% (<30 yrs); 44% (30-50 yrs); 49% (50+ yrs).
  • 60% – Number of forms with no data quality issues.
  • 56% – Area Co-ordinator group visit rate.
  • Referrals: 25% (Professional Referrals); 24% (Word of Mouth); 11% (HSE), 9% (Website); 6% (Community Education); 25% (other media).

Main Data Issues Encountered

  • Area Co-ordinator Present: If the Area Co-ordinator is visiting the meeting, then it is important not to count him/her in the group attendee metrics.
  • Live Testimony: This question should only be answered “yes” if a member of the group told their story at the meeting.
  • Group Classification: For reporting purposes, it is important to classify the group type (i.e. Community, Young Adult, Day Centre etc.) and region correctly.
  • Correct Month: E.g. the May forms will be entered into the system in June, so it is important to select “May” when entering, not “June”.
  • Missing Page 2: When entering the form into Survey Monkey, there are two pages. It is important to complete both pages otherwise half the form will be missing.
  • Monthly Totals: It is important for the Recorder and Area Co-ordinator to double check the monthly totals. The Age, Male/Female and GROWer profile subtotals should all add up to the same total attendance figure.
  • First Timers: Remember that an attendee can only be a first timer once. When there is a first timer in the group, it is very important to capture where the person found out about GROW. This helps GROW to make best use of a small advertising budget.
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Eastern Region News

The new GROW Soul Survivors 3 publication was officially launched in the Eastern Region at the Dublin Writer's Centre in Parnell Square on Wed 14th May. Special guest speakers included June Shannon (Journalist, Irish Medical News), Denise McCarthy (Deputy President, USI) and Margaret Lawlor (representative from GROW in Australia). It is hoped to schedule book launches for the Midland and Midwestern regions before year end. The book is available to purchase for €7.99 from GROW offices nationwide or by post from the Kilkenny office.

GROW CEO, Michele Kerrigan, will be talking about Soul Survivors to Dil Wickremasinghe on her Global Village show on Newstalk 106-108 FM, on Sat 7th June around 7-8pm.

Midwestern Region News

May was an exceptionally busy month down in the Mid West. The Templemore group is back up and running, and GROWers from the North Tipperary area came together in Mackey's Bar, Thurles, for a fun table quiz in early May. In Limerick, on May 4th, a team from GROW entered the Great Limerick Run Marathon Relay event (Kenn, Murray, David & Rob) and a couple of other supporters did the 6 mile event (Marc & Aimee). This was the first official outing for GROW's new running T-shirts, funded by South East.

Volunteers from the region provided information stands when the Cycle Against Suicide stopped over in Newcastlewest, Limerick (Crescent Comprehensive) and Ennis (Colaiste Mhuire) and one of the new GROW cycling tops was presented to Jim Breen. On Sun 18th May, a large number of GROWers and staff turned out to support the Limerick Mental Health Association Green Ribbon event in the Milk Market, where GROW also had an information stand. Great music and conversations took place over the course of the event. On Sun 25th May, area co-ordinator Mary Purcell, assisted by GROWers, setup a stand at the Newport Colour Run.

Southern Region News

The GROW Southern Region held their Annual Regional Weekend in the East Cork Area of Redbarn, Youghal, from Fri 9th to Sun 11th May. Over 46 GROW members from all over the Southern Region congregated at the Quality Inn Hotel, situated on the beautiful beachfront of Redbarn.

The weekend kicked off with a Fun Quiz, organised by Area Co-ordinator Treasa, with the competition every bit as fierce as the Eurovision Song Contest, which was being held the same weekend (with the “Non-bearded A Team” narrowly winning the coveted prize!).

The following morning, Siobhan gave her inspirational and hopeful Testimony, which tied in very nicely with the theme of the weekend; Step 4 “We acknowledged our gifts and our strengths”. Siobhan’s testimony was very well received, outlining her journey to overcome her struggles and highlighting her growth, development, resilience and strength.

Following on from Siobhan’s excellent testimony, Hugh O’Donovan, Coaching Psychologist, gave a Workshop on “Mindfulness Based Self-Coaching” which also worked in the weekend’s theme. Hugh’s workshop incorporated communication, self-awareness, mindfulness, rounding the session off with a relaxing meditation session.

Despite the dire weather forecast predicted for the Saturday afternoon, all were able to proceed with the activities scheduled for the weekend, organised by Michael Manning, Program Team member and Area Co-ordinator Finola. These included a walk along the beautiful cliffs of nearby Ardmore or a visit to Ballymaloe shops and gardens, followed by afternoon tea at the nearby Shannagarry Kilkenny Design Centre and Coffee Shop.

Sunday morning’s session opened up with Jeanette’s motivational testimony which was a testament to her courage, resilience and optimism.  The weekend’s theme was carried through to the workshop, as we can all too easily get hung up on the negatives in our lives and not give enough focus to what we can do. This session involved lively debate and participation by all, and how best they can use this to benefit of GROW and their respective groups. This rounded off a stimulating, motivating, and fun filled weekend, where old friendships were rekindled and new ones were formed.

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Northeastern Region News

During May, there was a very successful Community Education course rolled out in the Newgrange Hotel, Navan. This was followed by a Tractor Run in aid of GROW. Well done to all those involved in making these events happen - such events are very important in raising the profile of GROW and awareness about GROW's peer support services.


Northwestern Region News

Up in the North West, a total of €1,500 was raised at Pat Desmond's 60th Birthday Charity Fundraiser. A similar amount was raised for Irish Cancer Research at the same event. Pat would like to thank everyone for their generosity and to her family and friends who entertained everyone on the night. Special thanks to MC Richard Gilpin, the Armstrong Band and Pat's Daughter Geraldine.

During May a very successful Community Education course was rolled out in the Family Resource Centre, Raphoe.

Southeastern Region News

As usual, the South East had a very active May. Eoin Colfer's play, Holy Mary, produced by Jayne O'Sullivan, had three sell out shows in the Fusion Cafe, Wexford, which was a great way to start the Green Ribbon month of May. In Dungarvan, Gertrude Howley and her team have been very busy fundraising and promoting GROW. There are currently four active groups in the town and there is now a demand for a new day group also. Between Karen's Karaoke night, Ribbon Selling, Golf Classic & Cake Sales, the team in Dungarvan has raised over €8,500 since January - a commendable feat indeed and something other areas could perhaps learn from. Amidst all the activity, there was a touch of sadness in Dungarvan too, as GROWers there bade farewell to Richie, who is off to Australia - where of course GROW all started.

Meanwhile the team in Gorey were out and about promoting GROW as part of the Green Ribbon campaign and Helen Kenny and her daughter are to be congratulated for just completing the Flora Women's Mini Marathon, in which they also modelled GROW's new running (and cycling!) gear. Let's hope they can inspire many, many GROWers and their supporters to take to the streets of Dublin in June 2015! 

In Waterford, Caroline Crotty was in conversation with Kieran Foley from the Munster Express which resulted in a fine article entitled Having a Place to GROW.

Those working in the field of Mental Health may have heard of the ARI (Advancing Recovery in Ireland) project. In Carlow, as part of this initiative, there is a drop-in and information centre now open from 9:30-2 Mon-Fri.

Western Region News

Galway Writers Workshop

GROW in Galway hosted its first creating writing workshop on May 12th in Mill Street Galway. There was a great attendance at the first class, so much so that it is now fully booked out. The creative writing class was the brainchild of acclaimed poet and Galway native, Rita-Ann Higgins. After helping to launch Soul Survivors 3 in Galway, she was very impressed with the writing potential of GROWers. Her idea was to start up a writing workshop for GROWers in Galway and see where it would lead. Judging by the attendance and enthusiasm at the first class, it looks like there will be a bright future ahead for writers in the West.

Written contributions have always been a major part of GROW. Indeed it was from GROW Leaders Papers in the early days that the current GROW Program was developed. Personal Testimonies, single issue testimonies, and 3 volumes of Soul Survivors have followed in the years since. But the process of nurturing written compositions is not only a part of GROW’s history. It is a part of GROW’s present. Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone has wisdom to give. It was with this in mind that the Galway writers workshop was set up. A big thanks goes out to Rita-Ann, who is so generously giving of her time to this project.

Cycle Against Suicide

The 2014 Cycle against Suicide passed through Galway recently, and it was a great success. Over 500 cyclists made the stop off at Galway Community College on their way to Tuam on Sunday 4th May. This well attended event gave the cyclists a much needed break, and was a great opportunity to hear about the great projects taking place to raise awareness and prevent suicide nationwide.

There were many voluntary organisations present also including Aware, Shine, Samaritans, and of course GROW. Many of the cyclists learned about all the different supports that are out in the community, and it was definitely a case of “mental health cannot be taught, it has to be learned together”. A big Thank You goes to all the Galway GROWers who attended to lend their support to the cyclists, one of whom was a GROWer from one of the Galway city groups. Well done C.

Well done to Jim Breen and all at Cycle against Suicide for raising awareness about this important issue. You have shown great resilience over the last few weeks especially after suffering such a major loss a few days after the Galway leg. Our thoughts are with you.

Upcoming Regional and National Weekends

Western (and Midland) Regional Weekend (13-15 June)

The countdown to the GROW Western Regional weekend has begun and we’re looking to have a good balance of GROWers in attendance. With this in mind there is an open invitation to GROWers from other regions, particularly the Midland Region. The weekend is taking place from 13th-15th June, in Esker Retreat Centre, Athenry, Galway. The theme for the weekend is “Mental Health cannot be taught, it has to be learned together”. There will be a wide variety of talks over the weekend. Highlights will include a talk on Stress Management by noted psychologist Claire Gormley, as well as Personal Testimonies and a workshop on Confidence.

As always, the will be musical entertainment on Saturday night and plenty of free time to go for a walk around the beautiful grounds of Esker. For more detail about Esker and how to get there, visit The feedback from the last few Western Regional weekends has been very positive, so have a think about attending. It can be a great opportunity to connect and socialise with other GROWers in a safe and caring environment. ‘Friendship either finds or makes people equal’.

The cost for the full weekend is €150 (€35 for Saturday only). No Money is required when booking but a booking form MUST be sent in to secure a place. (Money is to be paid on arrival). This year the weekend will also be open to GROWers from the Midland region, so if you are from a Midland group please talk to your Area Co-ordinator or contact Mary in the Midland Office on 057-9351124.

National Weekend & AGM (13-15 June)

Planning is well underway for the GROW National Weekend which takes place this year in the Clayton Hotel, Galway from Fri 26 to Sun 28 Sept. Booking forms are being circulated to regions and estimated full price is €160 for full weekend. The theme for the weekend will focus on stigma and some interesting workshops and speakers are being lined up.

As per last year, the AGM will take place at some point over the weekend. All GROWers are welcome to the AGM however voting is restricted to company members. A company member has to be nominated by another company member and he/she should be a seasoned GROW member with about 5 years involvement in GROW and this should include some activity outside of their own immediate group (e.g. regional team, fundraising or PR work etc.).

Upcoming Dates and Events of Interest to GROWers

  • Dr Pat Bracken Public Lecture: West Cork Hotel, Skibbereen, 4th June, 7:30pm, €10.
  • Call for Submissions for the new National Framework for Suicide Prevention: Closing date Fri 6 Jun. 
  • Michele Kerrigan CEO with Dil Wickremasinghe on Global Village, Newstalk 106-108 FM: Sat 7 June.
  • Green Ribbon Movement Meditation: Thurs 12 Jun, 7:30-9:30pm, St Kevin's Community Hall, Portobello.
  • Western (and Midland) Regional Weekend: 13-15 June, Esker, Athenry.
  • Every Sunday afternoon 4pm: Derry O'Malley, Headspace Program on Limerick City Community Radio.
  • The National Suicide Research Foundation is launching the iFightDepression internet-based, self-management programme for mild to moderate depression on Wed 25 Jun.  Room 1.07 Western Gateway Building in UCC, 3-5.30pm.
  • Paddy McGowan (Interim Head of Service, Family Member and Carer Engagement with HSE) and his team are currently compiling feedback from over 1,000 people gathered at 24 HSE Listening Meetings which were conducted earlier in the year. If you attended one of these sessions and did not receive a recent email from that team please contact so that you are on their mailing list.

And Finally, Three of the Best

During May, there were many fine articles published relating to mental health topics. Here are a few to leave you with in case you missed them... Hope - Is the best in life and love and happiness ahead of you or behind you?
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